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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Default "The Gun" C.J. Chivers

    If you really want to understand what the AK is all about, this book literally spells it out. "One nation alone had the most puzzling reaction to the AK-47 and it's creeping movements across the globe: the United States. Throughout the crucial period of the AK-47's design, development, and mass distribution, American military officers did not forsee or understand the signifigance of what was happening at it's enemy's test ranges and arms plants. The American intelligence and arms design failures were almost total... And as for designing infantry firearms, it remained obstinately committed to high-powered cartridges and rifles that fired them. Part of that bedrock belief was tradition... America was the victim of romance- with old-fashioned rifles and the sharpshooting rifleman that carried them. These were integral to the national frontier legend... a mentality that handicapped American ground officers through the twentieth century's first six decades, and left the services unprepared for shifts in technology that were putting lightweight automatic rifles into it's enemy's hands." pp.251.

    "Allegiance to tradition informed more than the weapons the Pentagon chose to pursue. It colored how the Pentagon percieved the arrival of the assault rifle era. When the equipment and lessons of World War II were analyzed, the Soviets recognized the value of the "sturmgewehr". The Americans did not... The United States understood what Hugo Smeisser's automatic rifle did, it did not understand what it meant." pp254.

    And finally the real diferences between the AK and the AR and what they mean: "The AK-47's main operating sytem had been concieved to have loose fit and massive parts, and the resulting excess energy available in each firing cycle made it resistant to jamming. The stroke of it's operating system also exceeded the distance necessary to eject a spent cartridege and feed a new one by a full 50 percent. This meant that if the system grew sluggish and unable move back and forth along it's entire course, the motion produced would still be sufficient to keep the rifle clearing, feeding, and firing in a fight. Herein was a deceptive quality of the rifle: While it was externally a crude-looking weapon, ... it was thoroughly engineered- not for asthetics, but for reliability."

    "The M-16 was the manifestation of a different set of design ideas. It's parts were meant to be a snug fit... It also seemed to make it undependable. Dust, dirt, sand, rust, carbon buildup- all these things could slow or obstruct the movement of the M-16's bolt. Further, in the quest to keep down the weapon's weight, the main moving parts of it's operatring system had been made light... The M-16 was easy to carry, aim, and shoot. But the small mass of it's bolt gave it's operating system little excess energy; coupled with a tight fit, this was a design recipe for stoppages in harsh enviornments..." pp 309-310.

    It has taken me literally 30+ years to truly understand what the AK is, and why that is important to me. I have been issued or have owned the AR system since 1976. There is a certain emotional attachment. In the military I was indoctrinated with a contempt of anything combloc, including their rifle. These two things combined kept me from truly appreciating the AK for what it is.

    It is very difficult to change, especially with our rifleman heritage. But I have to believe that our forefathers would have embraced a better firearm to fight our enemies with, regardless of the traditions of the time. My Glocks replaced my 1911's. The AK has fianlly replaced my AR's.

    This book helped me to finally understand and accept what my rifle is really for. I am separating the romantic attachment from the rifle, and seeing it as a tool to kill my enemies, not as an object of affection.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Ky
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    166
    Nice review... may have to check this book out!

  3. #3
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    Jul 2004
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    N/W FL
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    Excellent book, and well worth reading.
    "The brave and generous have the best lives. They are seldom sorry."
    Viking saying

    NRA Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol Instructor
    SI Classes: CRG, ECRG, PSP

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    South Carolina
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    I knew someone would get to this before me. I am rolling through the 300 page area, and if you have a AR/308+ is a must snob, get him this book. It really is about machineguns and the idea of rapid fire weapons in general, and the culmination of why Assault Rifles (the rapid fire kind) revolutionized the way we fight, and why the need for a long range weapon is almost non-existent on the battlefield in general. The book really makes me want to get the Gorilla Sniper book in my hands (waiting on some back orders). Anyways if you want a non invasive way to make people rethink there selection let me put it this way. I almost want to sell my AR to get two more AKs I may not shoot to much even though I have two. I mean seriously what am I gonna do with two more, but the books making me want to do it.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2005
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    You know it's funny, the book had the same effect on me, even though the author (finally) comes out in the end and calls for their total ban. This schmo is trying to illustrate why these weapons should be banned, and we're sitting there going yeah, that's what I need.

  6. #6
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    Yeah his literary style, or should I say lack of style, is hard to plow through. When I was typing up the quotes I was thinking, man, this guy pads his sentences like a freshman trying to get a 500 word essay done.

    At first I wondered why he would include the story of the AR in the book. But then I realized it made an excellent counter-point to the way the sovs did their thing. Quite a story though. I heard the same stories from senior NCO's when I first joined the Corps. A lot of good men died over our government and industrial screw-ups. This is also one of the reasons I will never own a colt.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    4,382
    Quote Originally Posted by Elbows View Post
    I received this book from a friend for Christmas...This is a hard book to read. Mr. Chivers does not strike me as a particularly good author, as the entire (what, 500 pages?) read like a long newspaper article, over-laden with information in each sentence, as if he's afraid of running out a character limit.
    Also got it for Christmas. I'm 13 pages in & I'm growing weary of the effort & the tone. That said, Diz makes me want to keep going.

    I did get a chuckle from this:
    "By the time Saddam Hussein was pulled from a hole in Ad Dawr, in late 2003, the fugitive president had distilled his possessions to a modern outlaw's basic needs: two AK-47s and a crate of American cash. (He also had a pistol, a 9-millimeter Glock.)"

  8. #8
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    Aug 2005
    Location
    Pineland, USA
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    You know guys this may be something you read a little each day in "the library" as my wife calls it. Feel free to skip around too. I read the Kalash/AK stuff, then the AR, then the machinegun stories.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2005
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    south carolina
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    i got to hear bits and pieces via audiobook...and while i bet the printed text would be tough to get through, the spoken version has a number of somewhat comical parts. i was actually laughing at some of it. i was very surprised by some of the confusion about the AK's creation. VERY entertaining and enlightening.
    Tread lightly, equip moderately, and train heavily.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Pineland, USA
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    Well yeah there's another thread in the Kalash section where this dude is asking why the AK even exists. His deal is that he wants to see the ordnance specs which drove the design, like without them the gun has no purpose. Judging from Chivers book, which is prolly accurate, it sounds like another ordnance charlie foxtrot which accidently produced a great product, inspite of their best collective efforts. Or is it Kollective.

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